Sifting through the Supplements: Pills, or Whole-leaf?

The question I get most often when I prescribe a herbal tea is "is there a tablet version?"

Brewing tea, especially a therapeutic-grade one, is time consuming. Interestingly, that's exactly why I prescribe them for sleep, stress, and mood disorders. A lot of people simply don't have the time to brew a tea for ten minutes, then sit and sip it while it cools down. They certainly don't have time to do it two or three times a day!

So maybe it's a sneaky naturopathic trick, but delivering medicine in the form of a tea means that not only do they get the full benefits of the herbs, but I'm also forcing these go-go-go types to stop and take part in their healing. Brewing loose leaf herbs can be as therapeutic a process as the sipping of them.

These people need to stop. They need to let their bodies rest, and slip from 'fight or flight' mode to 'rest and digest'. Combing that physical slowing down with a full dose of herbs that promote relaxation, and you've got a winning combination. Deliver the same herbs in a pill, and it just becomes 'another thing to do in their daily rush'.

But before you race to bin all your capsules, liquids, and tablets, let me point out that it's not the same for all ailments. Sometimes, a tablet can deliver herbs in dosages that I just can't match in a tea (unless you feel like drinking a bucket of it) or the active compounds in the herbs just aren't water soluble and therefore don't even make it in to your cuppa – for example, one of my favourite liver herbs, Milk Thistle, keeps all it's power in a little molecule called silymarin. The downside is that silymarin doesn't get extracted in a tea, and so with this one you have to look at other methods.

For more on sleep, mood, and stress herbs delivered as infusions (that's herb-nerd talk for tea) check out my SUM T range at www.sumt.com.au or by hitting the 'SUM T Store' link at the top of the page.

- Reece.